See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

DESCRIPTION: Singer, dying, asks that his grave be kept clean, that his grave be dug with a silver spade, and that he be lowered with a golden chain.
AUTHOR: probably Blind Lemon Jefferson
EARLIEST DATE: 1928 (recording, Blind Lemon Jefferson)
KEYWORDS: death dying funeral nonballad religious floatingverses
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 92, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, pp. 114-115, "Sad and Lonesome Day" (1 text, 1 tune)
Courlander-NFM, p. 139, "(One Kind Favor)" (1 text)
Gilbert, p. 81, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (1 partial text)
Darling-NAS, pp. 300-301, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (1 text)

Roud #7382
[Joe] Evans & [Arthur] McClain, "Two White Horses in a Line" (Oriole 8081/Perfect 182/Romeo 5081, 1931; on BefBlues1)
Blind Lemon Jefferson, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (Paramount 12608B, 1928; on AAFM3; improperly listed as "Two White Horses" on the CD reissue cover though not in the notes; also on Jefferson01, JeffersonCD01)
Mike Seeger, "Sad and Lonesome Day" (on MSeeger01)
Hobart Smith, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (on LomaxCD1704)
Ruby Vass, "Lonesome Day" (on Persis1)

Two White Horses In a Line
NOTES [149 words]: In 1870, Gus Williams composed an item "See that My Grave's Kept Green"; I have no idea whether it affected this song. - RBW
I've seen the sheet music for Williams's piece, and the only thing it has in common with this song is the title phrase. The rest is a sentimentally melancholy bit of Victoriana. - PJS
For those who want to hear the Williams song itself, there are several 78 recordings, one by Bela Lam & his Greene County Singers (OKeh 45126, 1927) and a variety by the Carter Family (Victor 23835, 1933; Zonophone [South Africa] 4379, n.d.; Melotone 7-04-53/Conqueror 8735, 1937). In all cases the Williams song is recorded under the "See That My Grave Is Kept Green" title. - RBW, PJS
Some have speculated that the Jefferson song is descended from an ancestral spiritual, and that Williams wrote his song in imitation of that spiritual. There is no evidence on that question. -PJS
Last updated in version 4.2
File: ADR92

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